Thursday, May 16, 2013

7 Quick and Cheap Dinners to Feed Large Family

We have all had certain weeks where money is extra tight. Maybe you have a big bill to pay such as the mortgage or some unexpected expense came up. You need to plan a weeks worth of meals to feed your family without spending a fortune. Not only that it also happens to be nice weather out now and you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking. It just isn't fair. I have come up with a weeks worth of cheap and easy recipes to make. These recipes are made with ground beef, chicken or tuna and/or cheese as the main ingredient. Some of these ingredients you may already have on hand.

MONDAY (I just made this yesterday and forgot to snap a photo ):  )

Onion Beef Macaroni Casserole
This recipe tastes like you went out and bought a couple of boxes of hamburger helper but better and not as expensive. I found it on a newsletter we get every month.

1 ½ lbs ground beef.
4 cups water.
2 envelope onion soup mix.
2 cups macaroni pasta.
2 tablespoon flour.
½ cup grated cheese.
2-8oz cans of tomato sauce.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat, pour off fat. Stir in soup mix, flour, tomato sauce and water. Simmer covered for 5 minutes. Cook macaroni in 2 quarts salted water, drain. Add to meat mixture. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes.


Tator Tot Casserole
This is so simple I feel like I’m cheating. I don’t put vegetables in mine. I cook a vegetable on the side. I add shredded cheese to top right before finished baking instead.

1 lb of cooked ground beef (add chopped onion if desired)
1 bag of frozen tator tots (Aldi)
1 can of Cream soup of your choice
1 soup can of milk
Can of favorite vegetable (an option)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (instead of vegetable if desired)

For options you can layer with vegetable of your choice ( I cook vegetables on the side)
Put the cooked ground beef and onion in the bottom of dish. If you are adding vegetables this will be your next step. I save my vegetables as a side dish. Then top with a layer of frozen tator tots. Pour soup and milk mixture over the tator tots.  Bake at 350 until tator tots are golden brown. Add shredded cheese to the top about 15 minutes before done. You do not have to use the cheese we just prefer it instead of adding vegetable to it.


It’s the middle of the week. Don’t fret, have a hamburger and hotdog night. Add some homemade fries or sweet potato fries and some fruit to the meal and you have an easy no fuss great meal.


Tuna Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Just like the Tator Tot Casserole this is so easy to make it feels like you have cheated on the meal. I make this on a night hubby is working late. It stores in refrigerator and reheats nicely.

2 cans Tuna
2 boxes of favorite Mac and Cheese
1 can peas
2 cans cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup
1 cup milk (aside from the milk you use to make the mac and cheese)
Make your macaroni and cheese according to directions. When it is finished put it in a sauce pan along with the cream of mushroom soup. Add the peas and 1 cup milk. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.


Taco Casserole
One day I couldn’t decide what to make for dinner. I had taco stuff but no shells and didn’t feel like making my own. I did however have some corn chips so I through this together. One of the kids favorite meals.
Bag of Corn Chips.

2 cans of refried beans.
1 lb of ground hamburger
Shredded Cheese (cheddar or taco cheese)
Lettuce (shredded)
Sour Cream (optional)
Taco sauce or salsa

Get a casserole dish or 13x9 pan and spread the corn chips around the bottom of it. Cook ground beef in a skillet until done and drain. Top the corn chips with the cooked ground beef. Mix 2 cans of refried beans in a bowl until smooth and spread over the ground beef. Top with shredded cheese. Place in the oven and cook until the cheese has melted. Remove from oven. Top with your favorite toppings
Taco sauce or salsa,
Shredded Lettuce
Sour cream


Breakfast For Dinner
It’s the weekend and you’re just kicking back. You don’t have to stress over what to make for dinner just make it a breakfast night. Make your favorite breakfast foods for dinner. Some scrambled eggs, sausage and toast or biscuits and gravy. Maybe you prefer pancakes and waffles. Whatever you choose, making breakfast for dinner is a nice change of pace.


Homemade Chicken Fried Rice and Yum Yum Sauce
I love chicken fried rice but since we have put ourselves on a strict budget going out for Chinese has become a luxury. But with the help of a friend I learned how to make my own. I like it better. It makes a great Sunday meal, almost like calling out for Chinese food. I will also show you how to compliment this dish with a simple to make Japanese Yum Yum Sauce (perfect name). I love it on the top of my fried rice!

To make this rice quick and easy I buy the grilled chicken breast strips at Aldi. The bag cost over $6, but I can make 2 or 3 chicken fried rice meals for my family of 5 (depending on how much chicken you like in your rice). 

My problem has always been in cooking rice so that it is not soggy. I use regular rice (not instant) and a rice cooker that I found at Aldi around Christmas (one of my gifts to myself J). By cooking my rice in the rice cooker, it turns out perfect all the time. But my daughter makes the quick rice in the microwave and then puts it in the refrigerator until it gets cold (Cook ahead of time or the night before), but you can try it either way.
The green onion gives it color but most of the time all I have on hand is plain yellow onion so that is what I use the most. It really doesn’t take away any of the flavor. I use 1 whole medium yellow onion for my recipe.
Grilled Chicken Breast Strips(I Buy at ALDI)
Rice (regular or the instant version) 
Green Onion (or substitute with a different kind of onion)
Scrambled eggs( whatever you like. I use about 4 or 5 for my recipe).
Soy sauce- any kind you want. I use the low sodium at Aldi.
Garlic Salt
Onion Salt
Cayenne pepper

To make a large amount of chicken fried rice start with 3 to 4 cups (4 cups makes leftovers for my family) of uncooked rice. Cook the rice(if your using the instant rice you might want to get it cold first, so cook well ahead of time or the night before) and while it is cooking lay the frozen chicken out, chop your onion, scramble the eggs and if you haven’t already but are making the Yum Yum Sauce (below) do that now also.
When the rice is ready, you will need to put some oil in the bottom of a large frying pan, electric griddle or if you have a wok (my next purchase) all the more power to you.
I use the electric griddle. Get the oil hot and add your rice, chicken, eggs, onions, seasonings and soy sauce. Fry until chicken is done and onions have softened. I have so much on my griddle that it tends to fall off the edge, so I try to be careful or sometimes fry a little up at a time until it is finished.
 It really is a lot easier than it sounds. It doesn’t take long at all once you have all the ingredients lined up.


1 1/4 c mayo
1/4 c water
1 t. tomato paste ( I substitute ketchup it tastes the same)
1 T. butter
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 t sugar
1/4 t. paprika
Dash cayenne pepper

Mix together and chill. Add to the top of your Fried Rice for an added flavor.

You can make any of the above quick and easy recipes any day of the week. Plan your meals according to your own personal preference. For a nice change, watch for coupons or specials for family restaurants or take the family out on a night that kids eat free.


  1. Try adding a little grated ginger root with the onions. You can buy a very small piece of ginger root very cheeply (or you can use the jar of already grated ginger root.) It really adds a lot of flavor. YUM!